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The Northern Under - 19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1

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Hallam 4 Sheffield FC 2
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 5th May 2005

It's the last game of the season for both sides, so it's good that they're finishing the campaign by playing each other. Although Hallam remain at the bottom of the table, form counts for nothing when local pride is at stake. It is in fact Hallams 'home' fixture, but because Sandygate is not now available due to the starting of the cricket season, both sides agreed for the game to go ahead here at the Bright Finance Stadium.
 
It's a lovely sunny evening as the game kicks off with Sheffield kicking towards the Dronfield end. Back in their line-up, after serving his lengthy suspension, is Sam Ireland. It's a steady start by both sides, but after just five minutes Shefield take the lead when IRELAND finds himself unmarked just inside the area and curls the ball beyond the keepers outstretched fingers. It was Sheffield who were having the better of the early pressure with both Woodhall and Lawrence Burns going close, while at the other end Brakes had to be alert to race out and block a shot from Podmore. On 22 minutes the scores were level. A shot by HOLMES was saved by Brakes but the striker was on hand to tuck away the rebound. The game was pretty even now, with both sides having chances and both keepers being kept fairly busy. However it was Sheffield who went into the break with a goal on 43 minutes. CROSSLAND was brought down in the area, and it was he who got up, dusted himself down and calmly slotted the ball home sending the keeper the wrong way.
  
Hallam started to press the game in the second half, which left spaces at the back. Crossland was unlucky on a couple of occasions as first he went through one-on-one only to see his shot go agonisingly the wrong side of the post, and then had another effort hit the bar. Hallam got back on level terms just after the 50 minute mark. A through ball caught the Sheffield defence static and as Brakes rushed out of his area he appeared to handle the ball. However, with everyone standing watching the referee waved play on and CAMPBELL was there to put the ball into the empty net. It was Hallam who were asking all the questions now as Podmore had a good run down the Sheffield right and cut inside, before shooting across Brakes, who managed to divert the ball over the bar. On 63 minutes Hallam took the lead when HOLMES hit a low drive into the corner of the net. Despite his substitutions, Chris Sellars couldn't get his Sheffield team playing as we know they can, with the Hallam defence limiting the chances to long range efforts. Campbell was the next to test Brakes as his shot beat the keepers outstretched hand, but hit the post. However on 66 minutes Hallam got a fourth goal. The ball was bobbing around in the area with the Sheffield defence all at sea and it was PODMORE who was first to react and sweep the ball into the net. Sheffield tried to rally and get something from the match but it was too little too late as the Hallam Under 19's took all three points.
 
Hallam:- Sayles, O'Shea, Dale Burke, Tinsley,Marples, Danny Burke,Johnston, Holmes, Podmore, Campbell, Hays Substitutes: Jenkinson, Frost, Seaman.
Sheffield:- Brakes,M. Burges, Napier, Cherrill, Troughton (Brookfield), C. Burns, Collier (D.Burgess), Ireland, Crossland, Woodhall(Smith), L.Burns. 

Sheffield FC 2 Hallam 2
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 23rd March 2005

(Match Abandoned after 80 minutes)
Sheffield brought their home league programme to an end with a game against local rivals Hallam. Sheffield took the early initiative against bottom of the table Hallam and posed a threat each time they got the ball. Indeed Hallam had to defend resolutely as a succession of corners kept them firmly pinned in their own half. However it was the visitors who were first on the scoreboard after 20 minutes when, with their first serious attack of the match, a break down the Sheffield right saw the ball crossed into the area and PODMORE was on hand to sweep the ball past Sheffield's debut keeper Banks, whose first job was to pick the ball out of the net. Five minutes later the lead was doubled as the home defence hesitated, allowing HOLMES to nip in ahead of Banks and put the ball into the corner.  Sheffield then steadied themselves and got to grips with midfield and once more started to exert pressure on Sayles's goal. On 38 minutes they were rewarded for their endeavour with some fine work by Kontou, whose cross was well placed for CROSSLAND to volley home, and at least reduce the arrears before the half time whistle.
  
The game restarted with the home side once again on the attack, pinning their visitors back. On 54 minutes a fine move involving both Lawrence and Chris Burns saw the ball squared into the area, and once again CROSSLAND was on hand to make no mistake from six yards out. Hallam made sure that the home defence were kept on their toes as they soaked up the pressure and continued to hit Sheffield on the break. At the other end Crossland had a couple of good chances to get his hat trick, the first when his shot in the area just went wide and then another opportunity when Sayles charged down his shot and he blazed the rebound over the bar.
 
The game was building up to an exciting climax and there looked to be more goals on the way but all this was brought to an abrupt halt ten minutes from time when a floodlight failure plunged the pitch into darkness. With no hope of getting the generator re-started the referee had no option but to abandon the match and after consultation declared that the result would stand. The teams will meet again next Tuesday for the league fixture up at Sandygate.
 
Sheffield: Banks, Freeman, Napier, Brookfield, Mintoft, Troughton, Kontou, C.Burns, Crossland, Woodhall, L.Burns Subs: Sykes, Smith, Sheik, Aspinall.
Hallam: Sayles, Barker, Dale Burke, Ward, Marples, Johnston, Tinsley, Riley, Podmore, Holmes, Seaman Subs: Dowker, Danny Burke, Disher 

Sutton Town 2 Sheffield FC 0
Northern Under-19 Alliance League Cup Quarter Final
Monday 14th January 2005

Sutton join Harrogate Railway and Eastwood Town in the semi-finals of the Northern Under 19 Alliance League Cup, following a two goal win over their higher division opponents tonight at the New Hosiery Mills. Sheffield always looked an outside bet at best in this tie, with their cause not being helped by the lack of a recognised goalkeeper, the crisis being stemmed somewhat by a very creditable performance by Faud Sheikh, a player normally comfortable in a forward role. Both goals came in the second half, from centre forward James Priestley, neither of which could be attributed to the stand in keeper who performed more than admirably.
 
Club started the game down the slope, and with a fairly stiff breeze behind them, however apart from a few free kicks around the box the visitors did very little to test the home keeper Andrew Cobb. The nearest Sheffield came to a goal was from a Tom Fletcher corner, which managed to catch the wind, causing Cobb worry and panic in his attempt to flap the ball to safety. The goal-less first half was flat in comparison to the second period, as the Snipes took more advantage with the conditions in the favour, pounding Sheikh's goal from the off. James Priestley saw his effort tipped over the bar by the stand-in goalie, whilst Shiblu Miah Diaz went close seconds after by hitting the post, both inside the first five minutes. The stalemate however wasn't to last long, as in the 51st minute Diaz beat the offside trap to fire at goal, Sheikh could only parry it into the path of PRIESTLEY who had the easiest task off tapping into the empty net. PRIESTLEY made it two on 74 minutes after being fed through on the break, despite looking clearly offside, the big forward looked composed enough to win the lop-sided one-on-one contest and slotted the ball beyond Sheikh. Sheffield never looked as if they would get back into the game, despite good performances throughout the side - in particular from Mintoft and Collier - they couldn't get the break that would put Sutton under pressure score-wise. The moment of the game for Sheffield came from the unquestionable hero of the match, a great point blank save by Sheikh denying substitute Stefan Wright a certain goal, and the hosts a flattering scoreline.
 
Sutton Town: Cobb, Rowland, Posnanski, Gregory, Jones, Townroe, Bacon, Crowder, Priestley, Diaz, Fletcher. Subs: Ceney, Wright, Giles, Smith, Brown.
Sheffield FC: Sheikh, Kontou, Napier, Mintoft, Freeman, Brookfield, Collier, Napier, Fletcher, Simpson, Smith. Subs: Katusu, Burgess, Crossland, Troughton.

Sheffield FC 1 Hucknall Town 4
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 12th January 2005

On a rainsoaked pitch that was heavy underfoot it was Hucknall who made the livelier start, with Stephenson in the home goal having to make a couple of early saves. However, it was Sheffield who took the lead on 8 minutes when FLETCHER was played through the middle. Although the keeper managed to parry the ball, it was straight back to the striker who made no mistake second time around.
  
Hucknall came back with Stephenson once again having to make a full length save from Aikmans powerful shot. They then had a good shout for a penalty turned down as the referee adjudged that it was ball to hand as Brookfield cleared off the line. On 20 minutes the visitors drew level as a cross from the right was not cleared and MEAKIN was on hand to blast the ball home from the six yard box. A heavy downpour failed to dampen the spirits of both sides who were playing some fast flowing football.
 
Although looking good going forward the Sheffield goal was leading a charmed life as once again Meakin was able to let loose a strike from just inside the area, this time it just went the wrong side of the post. Then on 38 minutes the visitors took the lead. Once again a break down the right was hit into the area and, as before, MEAKIN was on hand to turn the ball home. Francis was a constant thorn in the side of the home defence, as whenever he was on the ball he looked dangerous, many times leaving the defenders chasing shadows. On 43 minutes, Hucknall went further ahead when, after hitting the bar with a shot, the ball was fed to MEAKIN who has no trouble in completing his hat-trick .
 
The game was over as a contest by the 50th minute as FRANCIS used his trickery to wrong foot the defence and squeeze the ball home, a goal richly deserved by his performance on the night. Sheffield were left to play for 'pride, which they did, but overall they had been outplayed.
 
Sheffield: Stephenson, Freeman, Brookfield, Cherrill, Troughton(Wragg), Sheikh, Burns C., Simpson, Fletcher, Crossland(Karsha), Burns L.(Sykes). Unused Subs: Napier, Brakes.
Hucknall Town: Fisher, Mcshane, Hutchinson, Ryan, Graham, Spriggs, Harding, Burke, Meakin, Francis E., Aikman. Subs:Peel, Newton, Francis R., Shepperd, Spencer.

Handsworth 1 Sheffield 7
Northern Under-19 Alliance League Cup Second Round
Wednesday 15th December 2004

Sheffield move on to face the winners of the Sutton Town and Farsley Celtic game, following a one-sided annihilation of Northern Alliance new-boys Handsworth at Olivers Mount this evening. The outcome was never in doubt following a five goal blast in a fifteen minute period in the first half, a lead that was extended to a comprehensive seven by the hour mark, with Coach Chris Sellars even having the luxury of playing the last twenty minutes with ten men by taking hat-trick hero Andrew Crossland off the field.
 
The writing was on the wall early on for the home side, with Rob Aspinall going close inside the first five minutes, and Sheffield exposing a very shaky looking back line. The scoring started on 17 minutes with Aspinall breaking down the left wing, his cross found Andrew Crossland at the back post and although the keeper James Clewes was able to stop the first effort, CROSSLAND was able to put the ball home at the second attempt. Almost immediately Club had the opportunity to double their lead as Sam Ireland, playing his last Under-19s game before his impending 112 day ban, saw his shot squirm under Clewes only to be denied by the post. The luck may have been on the keeper's side that time, but on 19 minutes there was nothing he could do to stop the free-kick from FLETCHER, being caught totally out of position from a grasscutter of a shot that made it 2-0. Two became three just three minutes later as Ross Napier's cross field ball found Stavros Kontou at the back post, Kontou beat off the attention of two defenders to set the ball on a plate for FLETCHER, who steadied the ball before striking home with ease from the penalty spot. With the score at 3-0 Handsworth looked out of it and Sheffield were breaking through at ease; Sam Ireland was showing good touches and Rob Aspinall's work-rate was excellent, whilst Tom Fletcher almost got his hat-trick following excellent build up play from those two players. On the half hour mark KONTOU made it four, skipping through the defence and lifting the ball over the keeper, a goal that looked remarkably easy. Meanwhile at the other end Mike Stephenson was having very little to do, and to be truthful the visitors weren't allowing anything to get near his goal, whilst his opposite number was having a torrid time counting the goals on his fingers. On 34 minutes Clewes had conceded a hand's worth, as Sam Ireland showed some strong tenacious midfield play to supply Andrew Crossland an excellent ball which saw the Sheffield forward in acres of space, CROSSLAND strolled in to slot the ball under the keeper to make it 5-0.
 
It was always going to be hard for Sheffield to keep the momentum going in the second period; however the visitors almost had a sixth when substitute Ishmail Karsha fed the ball through to Crossland who shot just wide. The next goal wasn't long in coming, and on fifty minutes skipper Ross Napier skipped into uncharted territory by the opposing corner flag to deliver an excellent cross, waiting in the middle was KARSHA who had little trouble poking the ball beyond Clewes for 6-0. Eight minutes later Club went seven up and were fizzing as CROSSLAND completed his hat-trick with the sweetest of goals, lobbing the ball from the angle of the eighteen yard box, a truly spectacular effort. After this point, to say Sheffield took their foot of the gas was an understatement. Having already replaced Kontou at half time and Ireland shortly after, to save for first team squad duty at the weekend, Crossland was replaced after aggravating an injury picked up last week at Matlock. Even so it took until the 76th minute for Handsworth to put something positive into the game, grabbing a consolation following a cross from the left by Paul Turner that was the first true test of the visiting defence, following a bit of a scramble the ball was ruled to have crossed the line but by whom it was hard to say. Following the goal Handsworth had a few chances to make the score even more respectable, however none really tested Stephenson and the hosts had to be content with just one.
 
In the end another convincing performance by the Sheffield lads, showing their lower league hosts exactly why there is a two division gap between the two sides. The scoreline could have been greater if they had carried on in the same vein for the full ninety minutes, but to be fair 7-1 was impressive enough and to rub salt in even more wouldn't have achieved too much.
 
Handsworth: Clewes, Travis, Blackburn, Newton, Prior, Ward (Butterwath), Brammer (Hartley), Windle (Roberts), Jackson, Taylor, Turner.
Sheffield FC: Stephenson, Freeman, Napier, Aspinall, Brookfield, Troughton, Kontou (Karsha), Ireland (Smith), Crossland, Fletcher, Burns.

Matlock Town 4 Sheffield 5
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 8th December 2004

In an absolutely breathtaking game, the Sheffield youngsters once again showed their credentials with an incredible turnaround that had seen them 4-1 down early in the second half, only to run out 5-4 winners and leaving everyone at Causeway Lane shaking their heads in disbelief. Following on from last Wednesday's defeat at the hands of table topping Dunkirk, Sheffield fielded a thoroughly depleted team, handing a debut to an inexperienced young keeper in Andrew Holmes, signed earlier that day from Greenhill Lowedges Under-18s. He was to have a pretty nervy game, conceding two goals each from Matt Dennis and Ben Mitchell, but a hat-trick from Tom Fletcher plus one a piece from Rob Brookfield and Faud Sheikh gave Club the unlikeliest of victories.
 
Sheffield got the dream start after just five minutes, with some good work down the left from Rob Aspinall feeding into Andrew Crossland in the box, Crossland showed some good footwork to dribble through the nervous defence to set FLETCHER up with the easiest of tap ins. Almost immediately after Fletcher broke through clear on goal, unfortunately his shot dipped just over the bar, denying what would have been an excellent solo goal. For the best part of twenty minutes there was nothing between either side, with neither keeper being called into action, that was soon to change as the Gladiators hit the visitors with a three goal salvo in a fifteen minute spell. In the 23rd minute the home team deservedly got back on level terms following a healthy spell of pressure on the Sheffield back line; an arrowed shot from the edge of the area from home skipper DENNIS left the debutant keeper Andrew Holmes sprawling, with the ball landing the right side of the post. Seven minutes later and Matlock had the lead, this time a neatly worked move down the right flank with Fraser Morton leaving the Sheffield defence for dead, his cross was inch perfect for MITCHELL to tap in from inches out. In the 38th minute Club looked to have given themselves too much of a mountain to climb after conceding a sloppy third goal, an apparent lack of self-confidence from Holmes saw an unconvincing clearance kick land at the feet of Matt Dennis, with the keeper stranded well off his line DENNIS had no problem lobbing the keeper from just inside the Sheffield half. Club looked out of the game, and the understrength side looked to have a decided lack of interest about it. 
 
The half time team talk from Sheffield coach Chris Sellars couldn't have been too much fun for the Club youngsters, as they were back on the pitch a good five minutes before the hosts appeared. And the team talk didn't look as though it had done much good as Matlock added to Holmes' torrid time between the sticks by scoring what seemed to be an insurmountable fourth, Stephen Morris providing the set up for MITCHELL to strike past the keeper with ease, with only two minutes on the clock. What followed from this point caught just about everyone in the Causeway Lane ground by surprise as Sheffield started the unlikely comeback. A nice dipping shot from the edge of the box by SHEIKH, which beat James Baker all ends up, in the 58th minute looked to be a mere consolation for the visitors and with Matlock still being 4-2 to the good there still only seemed to be one winner. Collective eyebrows were raised just five minutes after that when Chris Sykes, fresh on as a substitute for Rob Aspinall who'd run himself into the ground, made a good dash down the left to set up FLETCHER in the middle for a clinical finish. Now just one goal behind and with a good twenty five minutes on the clock, a renewed sense of self belief washed through the Sheffield ranks, and Faud Sheikh was denied an equaliser was a last ditch goal line clearance. The equaliser came with ten minutes to go, Tom Fletcher turning provider on this one with a pinpoint corner, with BROOKFIELD turning the ball home with a flick header. Now the draw looked to be salvaged, the next step was to complete the unthinkable and grab a winner, a task Fletcher almost completed seconds after the goal when his shot cannoned off the bar. With a minute on the clock Sheikh placed the ball through the static Matlock defence, finding Tom Fletcher open and racing towards goal, and keeping his composure FLETCHER placed the ball into the net to complete his hat-trick and an amazing three points - unbelievable!
 
There are too many superlatives that could be used to sum up this performance, and it's a long time since we've witnessed two such contrasting performances either side of the interval. The first half Sheffield look lacklustre and disinterested, the second - well the goals speak for themselves. They also did it against the odds, and they deserve to give themselves a pat on the back for that alone. The win takes Club back into second place, springing them back above Hucknall who took the spot after Tuesday night's win, and just six points behind Dunkirk with a game in hand. Next up for the Under 19s is a trip to Olivers Mount at Handsworth next Wednesday in the Northern Under-19 Alliance League Cup Second Round.
 
Matlock Town: Baker, Cooper, Low, Dennis, Ward, Cheetham (Thompson), Morton, Norris, Hawksworth, Mitchell (Thomas), Morris. Subs Not Used: Swift, Rach, Stanley.
Sheffield FC: Holmes, Kontou, Napier, Freeman, Mintoft, Troughton (Sheikh), Katusu, Brookfield, Crossland (Karsha), Fletcher, Aspinall (Sykes).

Sheffield FC 1 Dunkirk 2
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 24th November 2004

It's a top of the table clash for this Alliance League fixture, as league leaders Dunkirk make their first visit to the Bright Finance Stadium, looking to avenge their opening league defeat at the hands of Sheffield earlier in the season, whilst Sheffield are looking to build on last weeks victory againstMatlock Town. Another win this evening would see them level on points with tonight's visitors, but with a superior goal difference.
  
Due to heavy traffic delaying the Dunkirk players, the kick -off was put back for five minutes, to allow them a little time to warm up. As it was, Sheffield were first on the attack , as O'Dowd has to save well at the feet of Crossland , qiuckly followed by a Tom Fletcher shot which was blocked on the line. It's Sheffield who are asking all the questions as Burns delivers a pin-point cross from the left onto the head of Crossland, but once again the acrobatic O'Dowd makes a brilliant one handed save to palm the ball onto the bar and away to safety.
  
The visitors were now settling down and went close after 15 minutes when Thomas had a free header, but his effort was just wide of the post. Both teams were playing some good attacking football, which were keeping both defences on their toes. It was Dunkirk  who went close again as an uncharacteristic error by Mintoft let in Gamble, who's effort just shaved the wrong side of the post with Brakes left stranded. At the other end , both Burns and the lively Aspinall were causing problems for the big defenders as they frequently got the better of them to deliver balls to Crossland and Fletcher in the danger zone.
 
Just before the break it was Sheffield who made the breakthrough. As a Dunkirk attack broke down, a quick thinking Brakes punted the ball upfield to  Crossland, who controlled it with his head and released Fletcher on the left who's cross into the area was met perfectly by full back FREEMAN to blast into the net, giving O'Dowd no time to react. With the refere playing time added on at the end of the half, Dunkirk were awarded a corner and as the ball was delivered into the area , it was ISON who was on hand to scramble the ball home for an equaliser.
  
The second half saw Ireland replace the injured Crossland. Once again it was a fast paced and open game as both sides were intent on getting a win tonight. Just before the hour , good work by Kontou saw him swing the ball into the area where both Ireland and Fletcher were mere inches away from restoring the lead. Sykes was next to join the action, replacing Burns, who took a knock earlier in the game. Once again it was Brakes to the rescue for Sheffield when he made  a good stop on the edge of the area from the lively  Thomas.  Not to be outdone, O'Dowd was on hand again to save a Tom Fletcher 25 yard special, right on the line. With both teams now tiring   the keepers were  seeing more of the action, as neither side seemed content to just settle for a draw.  With 5 minutes left to play it was Dunkirk who got their noses in front. A through ball down the middle of the park, saw THOMAS outsprint the defence and he gave Brakes no chance as he steered his shot beyond the keepers reach. Dunkirk were content to hang onto the ball for the final few minutes, and play the clock down . When they did relinquish possesion their defence held firm to take all three points. It was a good contest  between the top two sides, which could have gone either way.
 
SHEFFIELD: Brakes, Freeman, Napier, Mintoft, Katusu, Troughton(Smith), Kontou, Aspinall, Crossland (Ireland), Fletcher, Burns (Sykes). Unused Subs: Shiekh, Brookfield.
DUNKIRK: O'Dowd, Quigley, Fletcher D., Ison, Mellor, Watnall, Sheriden, Smith M., Gamble, Thomas, Rutter. Subs: Burke, Nicholson, Gray.

Sheffield FC 3 Matlock Town 2
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 17th November 2004

The Club youngsters moved back within three points of the leaders Dunkirk, with a game still in hand, following a hard earned win over visitors Matlock Town. With a swirling wind hampering both teams, this was an incident packed game with the Gladiators coming back from two goals down to level, then with Sheffield losing the influential Sam Ireland through a red card they managed to grab all three points with an own-goal near to the end of the game.
 
The conditions didn't seem to suit either team this evening both sides started with attacking intentions, with Chris Burns going the closest early on, hitting the post after just ten minutes. Both keepers stamped an impressive presence in the first half, making some excellent stops to keep it a scoreless first half; firstly Mike Stephenson came to Sheffield's rescue, blocking James Redshaw's effort on goal after the ball deflected kindly into the path of the Matlock youth. Moments later a short one-two from a corner saw Tom Fletcher denied by a good save from James Baker in the visitors' goal, and shortly after that Fletcher went close with a typical long range effort. Some good work between Burns and Andy Crossland saw Sheffield denied again by Baker, another good block keeping the visitors in the game, and to top off a half of good keeping performances Stephenson made a superb point blank save from Matlock's Frazer Norton.
 
As seems to be the norm at the majority of Sheffield Under-19 home games, the hosts came out and opened the scoring early on. With only nine minutes on the second half clock, a penetrating pass from Tom Fletcher found Andy Crossland in the middle; CROSSLAND with typical predator's instinct remained calm to slot the ball over the keeper. Sheffield looked good value for their goal lead, although they rode their luck a little at the other end, Norton denied a goal by the woodwork following a bursting run from midfield. Even so Sheffield looked the team most likely to score next and only a headed clearance off the goal-line from Stephen Low, from Sam Ireland's effort following some strong work by Crossland on the keeper, saved Matlock from conceding a second. That clearance only delayed the inevitable until the 62nd minute of the game, when BURNS stabbed home at the back post following an excellent piece of work down the right by Stavros Kontou, the young first team prospect showing great tenacity to dig out a cross to supply the goal. The next ten minutes saw a total reversal of fortune, and also saw Matlock pull themselves on level terms with Club, following some uncharacteristic panicky football from Sheffield. Three minutes after Burns' goal Matlock reduced the arrears with a well worked goal, Redshaw bursting down the left to cross into the middle, the substitute MITCHELL was lurking in the middle to hammer home from close range. Eight minutes later and the comeback was complete, some good work by Norton saw the little winger upended in the area by a challenge from Burns, the penalty was awarded and O'BRIEN dispatched it into the corner. The goals raised the visitors' confidence dramatically, and after being on the back foot for the majority of the game, it was they who started to take the game to Sheffield. Things went from bad to worse for the hosts' when Ireland was given his marching orders for an alleged spitting offence; this was after tangling with Norton, who got a yellow card himself for his pains. With only six minutes left, and just when a draw was looking the best possible result for the ten-man Sheffield side Fletcher burst down the right hand side to put in a telling cross into the middle, fortunately for Club and unfortunately for the Gladiators Ben Hawksworth's attempted clearance off the line was steered into the net for an OWN GOAL.
 
Overall this was another good performance by Sheffield, although the result didn't reflect the nature of their superiority. Sam Ireland's dismissal could have made things a lot more difficult for Chris Sellars' side, especially at a point when the visitors were in the ascendancy, fortunately though luck was on the home team's side. This now sets up next weeks' game against Dunkirk as a potential title deciding game, the winners of that match taking top spot, although with several games still to play Alfreton, Mickleover and Middlewood might have a big say in matters.
 
Sheffield FC: Stephenson, Freeman, Napier, Brookfield, Mintoft (Sykes), Troughton (Aspinall), Kontou, Ireland, Fletcher, Crossland (Sheikh), Burns. Subs Not Used: Katusu, Brakes.
Matlock Town: Baker, O'Brien, Thompson, Vietch, Low, Norton, Dennis, Norris, Hawksworth, Redshaw, Morriss. Subs: Burton, Reagan, Mitchell, Stanley.

Sheffield FC 0 Mickleover Sports 2
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 10th November 2004

Once again Mickleover were the opposition for a Sheffield side. This time it's was the Under 19's league fixture at the Bright Finance Stadium as Sheffield looked to go top, against a Mickleover side that were placed mid-table having won, drawn and lost in the three matches they'd played so far.
  
Sheffield had the bulk of the play early on with chances at both ends. Notably from Fletcher who brought a good save out of Stones, and then one of his trade mark free kicks that dipped too late over the bar. Simpson then had a chance, but his chipped effort was just wide of the post. At the other end, Brakes had to be alert to save bravely at the feet of an onrushing forward. The final 15 minutes of the half saw the visitors applying more pressure, but the scoreboard remained blank as the referee blew for half time.
  
Straight from the restart, Crossland had a chance to put the home side in front as the keeper fumbled the ball, but his effort was cleared off the line. It was Crossland again three minutes later as his header from a long throw by Ireland sailing over the bar. On 50 minutes, with Sheffield putting pressure on, a ball headed back into the visitors area was met by the onrushing Ireland but his effort was blazed over the bar. The deadlock was broken on 55 minutes as an inswinging corner for Mickleover was misjudged by Brakes, rebounding off the post, and in the scramble to clear the ball ended up in the net. On the hour it was Brakes who redeemed himself by making a point blank save when Hughes was left in the open. At the other end , Simpson was unlucky as a through ball by Kontou found him just beating the keeper to the ball but his chip hit the side netting from an acute angle. Mickleover then broke free and swept down the field, with only a full stretch save by Brakes to tip the ball over the bar preventing the visitors increasing their lead. 65 minutes saw Ireland involved with Jackson after an off the ball incident but the referee took the sensible option of speaking to the players and giving yellow cards when it could well have been red. Sheffield's first substitution saw Brookfield take over from Troughton. Ireland was then denied a goalscoring chance as Stones raced out of his goal to gather bravely at the strikers feet. At the other end, Brakes was at full stretch again to turn away a goal bound effort. With just under 10 minutes left  Mickleover increased their lead as, from a free kick on the edge of the area, the ball was floated over the defensive wall leaving Brakes grasping thin air. Wisdom replaced Simpson for Sheffield as they tried to salvage something from the game. They were handed a lifeline in the 88th minute when awarded a penalty, but Fletcher's effort was way too high, hitting the top of the stand, which just about summed up Sheffield's night. Aspinall replaced Fletcher for the remaining few minutes of the match, but Mickleover were content to just hold onto the ball and end the game by taking all three points.
 
Sheffield: Brakes, Kontou, Napier, Freeman, Mintoft, Troughton (Brookfield), Burns, Ireland, Simpson (Wisdom), Fletcher (Aspinall), Crossland Unused Subs: Sykes, Stephenson.
Micleover Sports: Stones, Symcox, Robinson, Hodgson, Dereds, Bazzoni, Fell, Hughes, North, Stramkowski, Jackson. Subs: Forstar, Broadhurst, Rodgers, Slowinski.
 

Sheffield FC 3 Dunkirk 1
Northern Under-19 Alliance League Cup 1st Round
Wednesday 3rd November 2004

Sheffield came out on top in this cup battle of the top two in the league, with young Andrew Crossland the hero with a three goal salvo in side a fifteen minute spell that sank Dunkirk in a highly entertaining encounter at the Bright Finance Stadium. The Nottingham outfit came to Dronfield holding top spot in the league following an impressive win last week; however Sheffield were holding the current bragging rights between the two teams after Club's 5-1 win at Lenton Lane earlier in the season, and it was the hosts who maintained their domination with an excellent 3-1 victory.
 
Club started brightest and had two very early chances to grab an ideal start to the game; firstly Crossland was through one-on-one with Dunkirk's Chris Weathmell, the keeper coming out top this time blocking the Sheffield player's effort, and this was shortly followed by Stavros Kontou's header against the bar. Dunkirk started to dominate play, putting the Sheffield side on the back foot, but they couldn't break through the well organised home defence who stifled any real chances. The game turned into a bit of a midfield battle with very few efforts to test the keeper, however four minutes before the break Club got the boost they needed as Ross Napier got a cross into the box and CROSSLAND stooped to head home.
 
This boost was obviously carried through to the other side of the break as it took just 25 seconds for the home team to double their lead; Danny Simpson placed an inch perfect cross-cum-pass into the path of CROSSLAND who side footed the ball home to give Sheffield the two goal advantage. Nine minutes into the half and CROSSLAND sealed his hat-trick, and effectively the cup tie, following some neat play from Kontou who steered the ball into the young number eleven who in turn steadied himself before chipping past Weathmell. Crossland could have added to his tally later on, again the keeper bravely blocked the shot on this occasion, and as the game wore on Sheffield were looking more and more assured. Chris Burns was having an inspired performance on the left wing for the hosts, and the youngster had a chance to cap it all off with a goal following a jinking run that left the Dunkirk defence strewn, only a fingertip save onto the post by Weathmell stopped a contender for goal of the season. With six minutes left Dunkirk got a well earned consolation after Sheffield's Mike Stephenson appeared to adopt the "goalie-wag" formation whilst the visitors were on the break, Daniel Gamble took advantage of the wandering keeper to loft the ball into the net to give a late boost; as it was Sheffield had done already enough to get through to the second round of the cup and eased out the last few minutes safely.
 
Sheffield FC: Stephenson, Kontou, Napier, Freeman, Mintoft, Troughton, Burns, Ireland, Simpson, Fletcher, Crossland. Subs: Wisdom, Aspinall, Sykes, Sheikh, Brakes.
Dunkirk FC: Weathmell, Quigley, Gray, Whatnall, Blue, Mellor, Rose, Ison, Gamble, Wilson, Ashley. Subs: Rutter, Smith, Squires.

Middlewood Rovers 2 Sheffield FC 2
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Tuesday 26th October 2004

The Sheffield youngsters showed great bouncebackability at Parkgate tonight, coming from two goals down to draw level, in a game they never looked like winning for the majority of the match. Two second half strikes, one each from Sam Ireland and Danny Simpson, were enough to gain the point that took Club temporarily back to the top of the table.
 
Sheffield withstood some early pressure, with all the play taking place at Kenny Brakes' end of the field, with the visitors offering very little in the way of attacking football. Club's first effort of the game came from Chris Sykes, whose shot whistled just over the bar, the stalemate however was not to be held for long. In the 17th minute, and very much out of nothing, the ball fell to Mark Stanhope who stabbed the ball past Brakes to give the hosts a deserved lead. That lead could have been much more if it hadn't been for a touch of luck and some sound keeping, Brett Davies hit the bar from a thunderous free-kick, whilst the Sheffield keeper had to be alert to save three very good chances for Rovers.
 
The second half saw Sheffield on the defensive once again, and almost from the restart a mix up nearly let Stanhope in for his second, his shot this time going just wide. Just eight minutes into the half and Middlewood got their second goal, a cracking free kick from over thirty yards out giving Brakes no chance at all, Sheffield looked well and truly out of it. The youngsters showed great fighting spirit by bouncing back just two minutes later, some great work from Chris Burns fed the ball to Sam Ireland, who calmly slotted past the Middlewood keeper. This strike rattled the home team, and from here Sheffield looked a different team to the one that looked out of sorts to this point, and an equaliser looked on the cards. The expected goal came on 72 minutes and again it was made from sheer determination, this time from Ross Napier whose industry and persistence down the left wing drilled the ball into the area where Danny Simpson was on hand to control the ball and strike home. The point was enough to take Sheffield to the top of the table, albeit temporarily as Dunkirk regained their top slot 24 hours later with a convincing win over Hallam, but this result leaves Club in second place - three points off the top with two games in hand.
 
Sheffield FC: Brakes, Kontou, Napier, Freeman, Mintoff, Troughton, Burns, Ireland, Simpson, Fletcher, Sykes. Subs: Fu-ad Sheikh, Stephenson.

Hucknall Town 0 Sheffield FC 4
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 6th October 2004

Sheffield stormed to the top of the Northern Under 19 Alliance Division One table after an impressive performance at a chilly Watnall Road tonight, against a Hucknall side that had started the season equally impressive, with two goals either side of the break. Whilst the Club youngsters never looked to be four goals better than their hosts, they turned on a clinical display that Hucknall had no answer to, looking remarkably comfortable for the whole ninety minutes. The stars of this confident display were the two goal scorers Andrew Crossland and Tom Fletcher, who bagged a brace a piece, and Stavros Kontou who gave a captain's performance to lead the visitors by example.
 
Hucknall had the opening opportunity of the game early on, when a speculative shot from Paterson went narrowly past Kenny Brakes' post, but soon the tides were to turn in favour of the visitors. Following Danny Simpson's effort that was drilled directly at the keeper Tony Easom, Sheffield started to dominate proceedings, breaching the Hucknall back line at ease. The deadlock was broken on the quarter hour mark following Tom Fletcher's long range free-kick, which hit the bar having beaten the lanky Easom with ease, in the ensuing scramble CROSSLAND was smartest to the ball to stab home from close in. One became two eight minutes later, again the Fletcher - Crossland combination was involved, the former providing the latter with an opportunity which was blocked by Easom, the clearance however was intercepted by Kontou who squared the ball back into the middle for CROSSLAND to rifle home. Hucknall's youngsters had no answer to Club's fast counter attacking, and although Rorie Francis was given acres of space on the left for the hosts, Brakes' goal never looked like being truly threatened. The nearest Hucknall came to registering anything on the night was late on in the half, following a free-kick awarded against Sheffield for a back-pass; this in the end came to nothing as the scramble ended with Graham shooting wide of the goal.
 
The second half saw Hucknall throw everything at the visitors, who in turn were happy to hit the hosts on the break at every opportunity, and it seemed there was only going to be one outcome. Whilst Brakes comfortably held everything that came his way, with a few minor exceptions, Easom looked anything but comfortable at the other end along with an equally uneasy defensive line. Crossland had the chance to secure all three points early on, as well as grabbing his hat-trick, following a break by Fletcher down the left wing; his cross unfortunately was screwed over the top by Crossland, who was unmarked in the middle. Although Sheffield's second half performance wasn't as assured as the first, Hucknall never looked like scoring, and their best chance came from their best player on the night Martyn Burke who's misdirected cross caused Brakes' biggest concern of the night. Sheffield had a highly dubious decision fall against them, as Simpson had a goal disallowed, this after he had been put clear on goal by a Hucknall defender. The third goal finally did come in the 84th minute, from another FLETCHER long-range free-kick, again Easom was beaten over his head and the ball ricocheted into the net from the underside of the bar. To add insult to injury, three minutes later FLETCHER did the tall keeper again for height, lobbing Easom from 20 yards to give the emphatic final score.
 
Hucknall Town: Easom, Spriggs, Paterson (Hutchison), Graham, Pell, Burke, Harding (McDermott), Aikman, Bonnick, E.Francis, R.Francis.
Sheffield FC: Brakes, Kontou, Napier, Freeman, Brookfield, Troughton, Crossland, Ireland, Fletcher, Simpson, Sykes (Katusu).

Sheffield FC 6 Belper Town 0
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 22nd September 2004

It may have been drizzling tonight at the Bright Finance Stadium, but on the pitch it was raining goals, as the Sheffield youngsters went goal crazy against a stunned Belper outfit. The home team were hoping to bounce back from their 5-1 drubbing against an extremely strong Alfreton side last week, and they did just that and in style, grabbing three goals in each half in a highly clinical and disciplined display.
 
The writing was on the wall for the Derbyshire outfit early on, as Sheffield went close for the first of many occasions; Danny Simpson's flick on was driven straight at Jermaine Judson by Layen Wisdom. The scoring spree started on 18 minutes, the first of three goals in a ten minute spell, as Tom Fletcher noticed Judson off his line and arrowed the ball above and beyond the keeper to give Club a deserved lead. The second came on 26 minutes; a corner from the right by Lawrence Burns was met sweetly in the middle by the head of Stavros Kontou, giving the Belper defence no hope. Two minutes later saw a carbon-copy of the second goal, this time from the left side, again Burns' cross met by the head of Kontou, again the same end result - a goal, and 3-0 to the hosts.
 
The second half saw another three goals in ten minutes spree, the first coming on the hour mark and again the lively Burns was the provider, this time Fletcher was on hand to stab beyond Judson from close range. Sheffield went nap on 67 minutes, once again Burns the provider from an excellent corner, this time substitute Andrew Crossland rose above all to head home. The rout was completed on seventy minutes with the pick of the lot, a solo run from Crossland beat everyone in the defence, and keeping his composure lofted the ball over the helpless Belper keeper. It could have been even more of a rout if the woodwork hadn't come to Belper's rescue, Burns playing the ball into the middle, with substitute Robert Aspinall sliding in and hitting the post.
 
Overall this was an entertaining game of football, albeit on a dreadful evening, and Sheffield's performance is a credit to the excellent work by Chris Sellers and Steve Knight. If it's goals you want too see, then it's clear that this bunch of youngsters are the ones to come and watch, as their games have averaged six goals in each of their matches this season. Hopefully supporters of the first team will take heed and get themselves down to the next home game to give these boys a well deserved boost.
 
Sheffield FC: Stephenson, Kontou (Burns), Napier, Brookfield, Mintoff, Troughton (Crossland), Wisdom (Aspinall), Ireland, Simpson, Fletcher. Subs Not Used: Brakes, Freeman.
Belper Town: Judson, Green, Biggs, Walker, Wilkinson (Beardsley), Iliffe, Collins (Eley), Fearn, Steadman (Yates), Piliero.

Sheffield FC 1   Alfreton Town 5

Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1

Wednesday 15th September 2004

After their season opening 5-1 triumph at Dunkirk, Sheffield’s youngsters found themselves at the wrong end of a repeat scoreline against visitors Alfreton Town on a chilly autumn evening at the Coach and Horses.  Things might have been different had Danny Simpson managed to find the net ten minutes into the game, but his well hit, angled shot unfortunately went wide of both the Alfreton ‘keeper and the far post.  This saw the visitors grow gradually stronger in a thus far even encounter, and they finally reaped the rewards of some impressive play with two well-taken goals in the final ten minutes of the half, one each from the dangerous front duo of Mark ASHTON and Matt ELLIS.   

  

Half Time:  Sheffield FC 0  Alfreton Town 2

 

Any chance of a Sheffield comeback seemed to have evaporated only five minutes into the second half when ASHTON coolly slotted home his second of the game for the visitors, but hopes were revived shortly afterwards when Danny SIMPSON rose to get his head to a cross from the right wing and neatly place the ball beyond the reach of the Alfreton ‘keeper.  However, Sheffield’s cause was dealt a severe blow minutes later when the home goalscorer again appeared to use his head, but with connection aimed at an Alfreton player instead of the ball, his punishment being the inevitable straight red card.  Despite the spirited efforts of the remaining ten Sheffield players, Alfreton were never going to be denied from that point on.  Even the removal of the previous marksmen didn’t reduce the danger to the Sheffield goal, and further good strikes from Lee WALKER and substitute Ashley LONGSTAFF increased the misery of the home fans.  And without a fine save by Michael Stevenson and then a brave blocking header from Richard Mintoft, the gap would have widened even more.  There was almost a consolation second for Sheffield right at the death when Chris Burns swung in a low corner from the left which evaded all and sundry only to strike the near post and eventually be cleared. 

 

There will be tremendous disappointment within the Sheffield playing and coaching staff at this result, but there was plenty to show that this is a strong and spirited squad which will bounce back with better and more disciplined performances over the rest of the season, hopefully starting with the visit to Dronfield of Belper Town next Wednesday, 22nd September, kick-off 7:45pm.

   

Team: Michael Stephenson, Stavros Kontou, Laurence Burns (Chris Sykes), Joe Troughton, (Takamitsu Katusu), Richard Mintoft , Ross Napier, Layen Wisdom (Rob Aspinall), Sam Ireland, Danny Simpson, Tom Fletcher, Chris Burns. Subs not used: Kenny Brakes, Matt Crookes.

Dunkirk 1 Sheffield FC 5
Northern Under-19 Alliance Southern Section Division 1
Wednesday 8th September 2004

After the home side had made it’s intentions clear with some good passing football and a couple of efforts, two defensive lapses in the first twenty minutes handed an early lead to Sheffield. First, Tom Fletcher pounced on a poor clearance and supplied a super cross for Danny Simpson to head home from close range. Fletcher scored the second himself, his long range effort looked to have been well covered by the home ‘keeper but the ball somehow squirmed under his body to extend the visitors lead.

 

Dunkirk had not given up the contest by any means and their forwards were lively, Stephenson had to stretch to beat away a good cross, and the home side forced a number of corners, and when they did beat the defence, poor finishing let them down. Sheffield looked good going forward, Chris Burns put a great cross but this just eluded the attacking forwards. Tom Fletcher had another effort on target but the keeper was able to hold on to it this time. On 42 minutes Dunkirk had their best chance to get back into the game; with Stephenson beaten it was Richard Mintoft who managed to clear the ball off the line to preserve Sheffield’s lead. The last action of the first half half was provided by Sheffield was Stavros Kontou got in a tremendous header from a corner but this was deflected over the bar.

 

Half Time Dunkirk 0 Sheffield FC 2

 

There were no changes at half time, and it was Dunkirk who pressed forward at the start of the second period. Again, they were let down by poor finishing on several occasions, but after 50 minutes Stephenson made a super save from a free-kick; but had no chance when Joel Wilson pounced on  a loose ball following a mix up in the Sheffield defence, to make the score Dunkirk 1 Sheffield 2.

 

Almost immediately after the re-start the home side should have been level, Stephenson missed an opportunity to clear the ball, Wilson rounded him but somehow put his shot wide of the far post. Layen Wisdom replaced Chris Sykes who had pulled up injured, and

Takamitsu Katusu replaced Richard Brookfield.

 

The home side were looking more confident now and must have thought they would get something out of the game. However three goals in six minutes killed off the game. Tom Fletcher beat his marker and hit a firm effort across goal which was forced home by Layen Wisdom. Fletcher was provider again two minutes later – Joe Troughton found him in space on the right with a good ball and Tom hit a firm cross into the box which eventually fell to Takamitsu Katusu who hit a super shot from the edge of the area into the goal giving the keeper no chance. Fletcher deservedly got his second of the game, latching on to a long ball from defence, Danny Simpson lost his marker giving Tom the opportunity to score with a great low shot.

 

To their credit the home side continued to try to play attractive football, but the game did descend into a bit of a scrap, with egos and tempers frayed on both sides. Burns, Fletcher and Simpson went close in the closing stages and the visitors held on to the scoreline without any further serious efforts on goal by the home side.

 

A great start to the new season which will give the lads every confidence when they face Alfreton Town at home next Wednesday 15 September kick off 7:45pm

 

Team: Michael Stephenson, Stavros Kontou, Ross Napier, Richard Mintoft , Robert Brookfield (Takamitsu Katusu), Joe Troughton, Chris Burns, Sam Ireland, Danny Simpson, Tom Fletcher, Chris Sykes (Layen Wisdom) sub not used Kenny Brakes.

Sheffield FC U19's